Twenty three years ago today I gave birth to my second child, a daughter, by C-section, when I was midway into my 32nd year. She came out weighing in at 10.2 lbs., screaming right out of the chute (well, it wasn't the hatch so what else could I say?) and my husband's first words were "OMG, that is going to be one stubborn kid". I remember telling him to shut-up, but hey, I was in a little pain, ok? I was so huge (in the stomach area, thank you) that it took them a good 20 minutes of pulling on my arms & legs to get my back arched enough for the epidural. I thank God my doctor was there to give me the epidural because the nurses were actually beginning to laugh & lose strength from the laughter. Oh sure, that was comforting. Feel free to click on any picture for a laugh as well as an enlargement.
Great. I had asked for a general anesthesia, like with the first C-section baby, our son. Unfortunately, my doc said it was too long for the baby to be "under", while they cut through the SCAR TISSUE. Well, that right there pissed me off to begin with. But, once the epidural was successful, my legs were spread (yes, even with a C-section... they kind of tie you down, just in case they get a crazy I suppose) in front of complete strangers who all had on masks (ok, I knew my doctor but he still had a mask on). So, yes, I was in a bit of a mood. You try giving birth to a 10 lb. watermelon. It's not for the faint of heart. And here, dearest daughter, I must tell you that before you were born I wondered if I could ever love another child as much as I loved your brother. I quickly found out the answer to that question and the rest is history.
So, here's this funny little (okay, maybe not little) cherub of a girl that had weighed in at 10 pounds and 2 ounces, when I had been expecting another boy all along. I mean, my freaking stomach sat down long before my derriere caught up. That's how low I carried her. They wouldn't let me on airplanes from 7-1/2 months on. They were scared to death I'd domino on the plane. Whatever, I went full term. Thankfully, a Latino boy weighing 13 lbs. was born about the same time as her and next to him, she did look like a little cherub. I was just grateful his picture made the news & not my daughter's. Imagine living that one down. Biggest Baby Ever Born @ Local Hospital. Ugh! So, even though she was almost teething & walking, she seemed like a petite little thing next to the big Latino Bruiser, lol.
She was born just before Easter weekend and was the best thing I ever received from the good old Easter Bunny. Her first night in the hospital the nurses didn't bring her to me, for some reason. So I decided to be patient but after 20 minutes I started imagining that she'd been kidnapped or something. (You Moms know about this kind of emotional behavior, right?) So, I called the nurses station in a rather panicked voice & asked when they were bringing her to me to be fed. The nurse chuckled & told me that she'd be happy to wake the sleeping angel if I liked, but that she was in sleepyland. Huh? So I told her to definitely not do that. I'd forgotten that babies usually sleep through the night @ 10 lbs. I think that was probably the last time she ever slept through the night. Turns out, she never could "spit up", which caused her to have colic, which made all of us miserable.
A friend once told me that good babies generally tend to make up for that later on and vice versa. Thankfully, she was right. My daughter (who was not an easy baby) has been a joy for me since day one that she got over the colic. It was a rough first year, but she more than made up for that tiny amount of time, later on. She is everything I have ever wanted to be but am not. She has done everything I've ever wanted to do & could not. She is the kind of person I would want to know, even if she weren't my daughter. She is my best friend, although that didn't come to be until roughly college. Yup. I hate that she lives so far away from me and yet, I damn sure don't want any kids back home, lol. I know she's as grateful for this attitude as I am for her respecting said attitude.
That said, I just want to say how thankful & grateful & filled with joy I am, to have had the blessing to have the kind of daughter that she is. We are so totally different even though she looks a lot like I did at her age. She has taught me way more than I think I could have ever taught her and I often wondered, throughout her upbringing, who the parent was. Because it clearly wasn't me all of the time. She's someone I admire for her loyalty & her keen insight into the human mind & for her insane ability to remember everything. She's like a freaking elephant. If she's not doing (at the very least) five different things at once, then she's bored. When I talk to her on the phone, I have to keep a notepad to remember everything she rattles off. It's mind-boggling, really. Ummmm... she is the perfect example of an Aires... not that I believe in that crap.
She kept her nose clean all the way through high school, which means whatever she did do, she & her friends never got caught because they were the class officers & smart kids & had enough sense to not get caught. She made straight A's in all honors classes until senior year, when she made a B in Spanish or something. She played Varsity Soccer throughout high school as well as Club Soccer the entire duration of high school. She always attended Church, Church Youth Group, and Teen Bible Study religiously. She was president of the teen group against drugs & alcohol (although I now know she was not alcohol free, just smart). She was a class officer & National Honor Society member every year from junior high until she graduated and was in Who's Who of American Students. She attended a specialized study course on Government & Politics @ Yale University one Summer and was her high school's MOAS representative to Washington, D.C. for her Junior & Senior years. She was voted the craziest/best in costumes 4 years in a row during "Howdy Week" and was honored with being crowned Prom Queen her senior year. I guarantee you that she has been a wild, wonderful ride for me and for her Dad.
She does have one claim to fame. When in Washington D. C. for her Model Organization of American Students trip, they were visiting the office of Don Evans, Secretary of Commerce, when she promptly fainted in front of everyone. Don was a nervous wreck over it, as was our daughter (afterwards... she'd worn a short skirt that apparently ended up over her head as a result of the fall). I did remind her that if she ever needs a job from them at any future point, it should be easy to remind them of who she is. She got a giggle out of that.
College was no less impressive. She pledged Thetas @ The University of Texas (I never did sororities) and worked a part time job at a law firm in her spare time (all four years). She also babysat, housesat, was on the UT Waterski Team, made her Debut, and went through two totally unsuitable boyfriends. Incredibly, she still has never smoked. She graduated last May and I have never felt such pride in my entire life. She's spunky, she's sarcastic, she's smart, she's witty, she's a fashionista, and she's fun. But woe unto the person who pisses her off. I think my job is done here. Well, until maybe a wedding and then some grandbabies. (No, that is NOT a hint... just hoping for these sometime before I die.)
So, my dearest daughter, I am wishing you the happiest of birthdays, on this, your 23rd, and hope that you always know how much I love you and how much you mean to me. You were the funniest little kid ever and the most interesting adult I know. I have an odd feeling this wild, wonderful ride isn't quite over yet. YeeeeeHaaaaaaaw! I'm ready. Bring. It. On.
Before I end this I would like to add a passage your Uncle Bill sent to me when you were still a little girl. It's a passage from a book called "All I Really Needed to Know I Learned In Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum. Uncle Bill knew, as we did not, that you were destined to be something special & different. Here it is:
Giants, Wizards & Dwarfs was the game to play.
Being left in charge of about eighty children 7 to 10 years old, while their parents were off doing parenty things, I mustered my troops in the church social hall and explained the game. It's a large scale version of Rock, Paper, and Scissors, and involves some intellectual decision making. But the real purpose of the game is to make a lot of noise and run around chasing people until nobody knows which side you are on or who won.
Organizing a roomful of wired-up gradeschoolers into two teams, explaining the rudiments of the game, achieving consensus on group identity - all this no mean accomplishment, but we did it with a right good will and were ready to go.
The excitement of the chase had reached a critical mass. I yelled out: "You have to decide now which you are - a Giant, a Wizard, or a Dwarf!" While the groups huddled in frenzied, whispered consultation, a tug came at my pants leg. A small child stands there looking up, and asks in a small, concerned voice "Where do the Mermaids stand?"
Where do the Mermaids stand?
A long pause. A very long pause. "Where do the Mermaids stand?" says I.
"Yes, you see, I am a Mermaid."
"There are no such things as Mermaids."
"Oh, yes, I am one!"
She did not relate to being a Giant, a Wizard, or a Dwarf. She knew her category. Mermaid. And was not about to leave the game and go over and stand against the wall where a loser would stand. She intended to participate, wherever Mermaids fit into the scheme of things..Without giving up identity or dignity. She took it for granted that there was a place for Mermaids and that I would know just where.
Well, where DO the Mermaids stand? All the "Mermaids" - all those who are different, who do not fit the norm and who do not accept the available boxes & pigeonholes?
Answer that question and you can build a a school, a nation, a world on it.
What was my answer at that moment? Every once in a while I say the right thing. "The Mermaid stands right next to the King of the Sea!" says I. (Yes, right here by the King's Fool, I thought to myself.)
So, we stood there hand in hand, reviewing the troops of Wizards and Giants and Dwarfs as they roiled by in wild disarray.
It is not true, by the way, that Mermaids do not exist. I know at least one personally. I have held her hand.
I LOVE THAT STORY! And Uncle Bill was right about you. There isn't a mold into which you fit. I thank God for that.
PLEASE WISH HER A HAPPY BIRTHDAY!